Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Picnic in the Park

A few weeks ago, I invited a coworker of mine to see a movie at the Boston Hatch Shell on the Charles River.  They show family movies on a big screen outside on the Esplanade on Friday nights after dusk.  I have no idea why I haven't spent every single Friday night down by the river enjoying this free perk.  Sure, there are some rather unbehaving children there, but it's outweighed by the fact that you are watching a movie outdoors. 

In a park. 

Over looking a beautiful river. 

For free. 

Wicked Boston Fun.
Come on! My coworker showed up at my house with the most ginormous picnic basket ever.  I had expected her to bring sandwiches or something simple, while I provided the wine, so imagine my surprise when she pulled out an entire pan of freshly baked caramel brownies and a cheese stuffed beef roast.  Why stop there?  How about an heirloom tomato salad?  Maybe some Asian Peanut Noodles?  And pizza for her kiddo.  It was insane.  This girl just totally rewrote the book on picnics.

So, when UP was scheduled to play a few weeks ago, I was inspired to go above and beyond standard picnic fare.  There would be no turkey sandwiches or pasta salad on my watch.  No sirree.

My inspired picnic consisted of:  proscuitto wrapped asparagus with herbed goat cheese, tomato basil mozzerella skewers, veggies/hummus and an array of cheese, crackers and sausage.  And a bottle of fabulous white, of course.  


It was two bottles of fabulous white.

I'm hungry just reminiscing about it.

It was rather simple to pull together actually.  A leisurely walk over to Trader Joe's in the Back Bay provided me with all I needed AND then some (impulse purchases are the kiss of death to the wallet).

Prosciutto/Goat Cheese/Asparagus

The name lists all the ingredients - so this is a no brainer.  I got a package of already sliced prosciutto and herbed goat cheese.  Simply steam the asparagus slightly al dente and cool. (Don't over cook, it's important they are firm - limp asparagus is unimpressive in this case.) 

Lay out a thin slice of proscuitto and slab some goat cheese on one end.  Take three stalks of asparagus and roll up in the prosciutto (like pigs in a blanket).  The goat cheese on the one end will act like glue to keep it all together.  

Be generous, but not overly generous with your goat cheese or when you roll it up it will gob out because it has no place to go.  Which, is clearly only an issue in the aesthetics department, not in the taste factor.  These can be chilled prior to your picnic or eaten straight away. 

Look at these beauties!  Don't you just want to eat 'em up?

Tomato Basil Mozzerella Skewers

Again, don't over think this one kids - it's exactly as it sounds.  I halfed grape tomatoes, cut up a ball of mozzerella and ripped up shreds of basil and then skewered them on mini toothpicks.  These are easy to prepare ahead of time and store well.  Come picnic time, feel free to drizzle a balsamic over the top.  Mmmmm.... delish.  Well, I guess it would have been delish, except, in my haste, I bought balsamic vinegar, which is QUITE different than balsamic vinagrette (which has oil).

Oops.  You can't be perfect all the time.  Nonetheless, the skewers tasted fabulous naked.

In addition to the stellar dishes above - I also got a few different hunks of cheese (gouda, blue and a smelly French one), some sopreseta (sausage) and a Trader Joe's variety boxes of crackers.  Add in an aioli garlic mustard and PRESTO:

You've just won of the hearts of your picnic companions.  The wine might have something to do with it too....

This was all very easy to pull together.  The bigger battle was figuring out what to make and overcoming the misconception that picnics have to be so standard!


  1. Great photos. I will be attempting both of these recipes. Yum, I love proscuitto!

  2. They look amazing!!! Nice work! We're they loved?